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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Spotlight {Interview & Giveaway}-- ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

I'm thrilled to be spotlighting the middle-grade Cape Cod Witch Series today! Below you can learn more about these books, check out my interview with the authors, and enter to win a copy of book three...

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties
(Cape Cod Witch #3)
by Chris and J. Bean Palmer
Holly Hill Press

When their wild and free ancestral lands are threatened, three ancient ghosts need one of their clan from the living world. They call the Thistle heir from across the sea to the old country. 

Almost-eleven-year-old ElsBeth Amelia Thistle, the youngest witch on Cape Cod, has her own need to unearth the family mysteries and to begin in earnest her chosen calling to protect the natural world. 

ElsBeth uses the best she knows of science and magic (not so very different from each other, after all). But even with help from a curious cast of magical creatures she befriends, and her spirited classmates who've been swept along (including the beautiful feisty fashionista Veronica, a Wampanoag chief-to-be Johnny, and Frankie, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his prize-fighting Uncle Vittorio), ElsBeth is in way over her magic level -- and into older, odder mysteries than she could ever dream -- in an adventure just above the surface of reality. 

Includes twenty-two original, full-color illustrations.

The Cape Cod Witch and the Pirate's Treasure (book #1)
Book I in the popular award winning Cape Cod Witch Series, chronicling the magical adventures of ElsBeth Amelia Thistle. 
When Halloween approaches, a never-quite-forgotten pirate’s treasure provokes some serious trouble. And the youngest witch on Cape Cod, some of her magical friends, and a motley pack of classmates are called to face off against dangerous outsiders -- and the notorious pirate Billy Bowlegs.
Includes twenty, whimsical, full-color illustrations by juried fine artist Melanie Therrien. 
Recommended for boys and girls ages 8-13. Children ages 5-7 love the story read to them -- and adults like it, too!

The Cape Cod Witch and the Legend of the Pirate (book #2)
Book II in the popular award winning Cape Cod Witch Series featuring ElsBeth Amelia Thistle. 
While on an innocent field trip to Boston’s historic Freedom Trail, ElsBeth and her classmates become entangled in the fateful kidnapping of another student -- a young Arabian Prince. 
Under the Old North Church they meet the famous freedom fighter, the pirate ghost Captain Thomas Jacques, who leads them on a daring rescue attempt across the treacherous waters to Nantucket Island. And along the way ElsBeth and her friends get a real-life lesson in fighting for freedom and caring about something bigger than themselves. 
Readers also discover a treasure chest of historical nuggets and Cape and Islands lore, together with a brief sketch of the authentic pirates featured in Books I and II. 
Includes thirteen original illustrations and other stylized graphic art.

Book I in The Cape Cod Witch Series, originally published in print copy as The Cape Cod Witch and the Pirate’s Treasure, was awarded Honorable Mention in the Pre-teen Literature Fiction category of the 2012 Global eBook Awards, and also received Honorable Mention in the Children’s Books category of the 2013 Paris Book Festival.

Book II of the series, originally published as The Cape Cod Witch and the Legend of the Pirate, was awarded Honorable Mention in the Regional Literature category of the 2013 New England Book Festival, and also received Honorable Mention in the Genre-Based category of the 2013 London Book Festival.

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, Book III the series and published this month, was awarded Honorable Mention (pre-publication) the 2013 Midwest Book Festival in the Unpublished Manuscript category, the only children’s book awarded in this category.

Additionally, The Little Cape Cod Witch Cookbook, The Secret Recipes of Hannah Goodspell, a children’s cookbook written for the series, won First Prize in the Cookbook category in the 2012 New England Book Festival, also in competition with adult cookbooks.

What three words best describe your Cape Cod Witch Series?

Natural-world magical adventures (OK, maybe that’s three-and-a-half words.)

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, why they should give this series a try?

This is quote from a review of the first ElsBeth book:

The Cape Cod Witch and the Pirate’s Treasure got such rave reviews from my two nephews … I felt like I had to pass it on: What makes their recommendations so remarkable is that they’re sort of reluctant readers, and hey, anytime two boys jump up and down (literally) and implore me to read something, I listen -- my nephew said all of the kids in his third grade class love this book, bar none.” --Ali Decker, Ypulse Book Editor

Grab a copy of the latest Cape Cod Witch book, ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, and answer the following:

Favorite chapter?
“Beasties, Banshees, and Other Creatures of the Night”

Favorite page?
The first page, “The Call”

Favorite illustration?
“The Griffin and Black Roses of Malfleur Manor”

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-3 sentence teaser:
“ElsBeth was right behind Frankie when they stepped off the
Sea Charmer -- and a sharp shriek again tore the still air. Frankie jumped straight up and came down in his most aggressive boxing stance. From fear to fierce in less than a second.”

What inspired your Cape Cod Witch Series? Were you influenced by any particular witch myths/lore, or pop cultural elements (other books/movies/shows)?

Oddly enough, Huckleberry Finn. I wanted to write an adventure story in the vein of the classics, and something for both boys and girls. But with magical elements that presented new realties and an environmental theme because of my passion and respect for the natural world and its magical kinship -- influenced, no doubt, by my education and degree in Environmental Science.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, ElsBeth? What makes her special or different from other middle-grade heroines?

Though ElsBeth’s skills are still developing, she has a clear calling to protect the natural world, using the best she knows of science and magic (not so very different from each other, after all).

How important are the settings in each book in the Cape Cod Witch Series?

Book I is set on the Cape, in and near her seaside home, and she and her friends have to face off against dangerous outsiders and a notorious pirate to restore the balance of past and present, good and evil.

In Book II ElsBeth and her friends go on a field trip to the Boston Freedom Trail. They get caught up with a freedom-fighting pirate ghost in the rescue attempt of a kidnaped student, and travel across the waters to Nantucket Island, in a real-life lesson in fighting for freedom and something bigger than themselves.

In Book III ElsBeth is called across the sea to the Scottish Highlands by three ancient ghosts of her clan when their ancestral lands are threatened. She has to begin in earnest her chosen calling to protect the natural world -- while unearthing in the country older, odder family mysteries than she could ever dream.

In other words, the settings are actually important characters, themselves, in the stories.

Throughout the three books, ElsBeth has obviously had some interesting adventures and met some intriguing you have a favorite thing she’s done and/or favorite person she’s met?

Meeting ghosts, and finding they’re not so different from the rest of us -- they have problems, too, after all. Durst, the ancient warrior ghost in ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, is my current favorite. He’s a little difficult to get along with, but well worth getting to know.

Can you give us any tidbits about what’s to come for ElsBeth in future book?!

ElsBeth ventures to the Wild West and gets involved with some Native American spirits who are troubled by what's happened to their lands. ElsBeth is growing up even more, and she learns she can’t make things right all on her own, even if she is a witch.

Answer the following:
I’m really awesome at Imagining things!

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I fell down eight times cross-country skiing the other day. (Don’t tell my brother, a former captain of the Dartmouth ski team.)

The last great book I read was Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by your Cape Cod Witch Series, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Funny you should ask! Here’s a picture and the recipe, included at the end of Book II and also in The Little Cape Cod Witch: The Secret Recipes of Hannah Goodspell, a cookbook for young folks we published as part of the series (and which won First Prize in the Cookbook category in the 2012 New England Book Festival).

Double-Double Chocolate Chip
Fairy-Cream Cupcakes

(ElsBeth’s Favorite!)


14 tablespoons butter (best from Farmer Green’s cow, Beatrice)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1¼ cups agave nectar
3 large eggs (ElsBeth and Hannah like Hattie the Hen’s eggs best)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped (if you like walnuts)
½ cup chocolate chips (ElsBeth likes the grain-sweetened ones)


1.  Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Line 12-count muffin tin with cupcake liners.
3.  Melt butter. Whisk in unsweetened cocoa. Add agave nectar and mix well.
4.  In another bowl lightly beat together eggs with vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to the cocoa mixture and blend together. Then mix in flour and salt. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.
5.  Pour into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cupcake; the toothpick should have some moist crumbs attached to it. Do not over bake!
6.  Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Fairy-Cream Frosting

1 cup heavy cream (also best from Beatrice)
¼ cup agave nectar, more or less
1 teaspoon vanilla


1.  Beat cream until stiff (Hint: Sprinkle unflavored gelatin on the cream as you beat it and it will become stiff more easily and hold its shape longer.)
2.  Then slowly add agave nectar and vanilla. (Hannah lets ElsBeth lick the bowl!)
3.  Then place a cupcake in a pretty dish, and add as much fairy cream as you like.

And remember, it is always the most fun to share!

In The Cape Cod Witch Series J Bean Palmer calls upon her family’s long history in New England including a Revolutionary “Green Mountain Boy,” Cape Cod cranberry farmers and artists, and an oft-told family legend that as her grandmother’s ancestors stepped off the Mayflower, her grandfather’s relatives were there to greet them. With a degree in Environmental Science (summa cum laude, University of Maine), the author’s ElsBeth stories reflect a passion and respect for the natural world and its magical kinship. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the National League of American Pen Women and the Cape Cod Cultural Center, and a former board member of the Cape Cod Writers Center.

Co-author Chris Palmer makes some use of his education in philosophy and his experience as a short-order cook on Cape Cod, a Boston cab driver and an Internet business executive in California in contributing the poems that are sung or spoken by several characters in the stories. Chris is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a 14th generation Cape Codder. He and J Bean currently reside in a converted barn on the banks of a western Maine river. The authors welcome readers’ comments and may be contacted at

Win an e-copy of ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties!
The authors have generously offered one e-copy (in the format of the winner's choice) to give away.
-open to anyone who can read ebooks
-will end 1.23
-must be 13+, one free entry per person
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
Fill out the Rafflecopter form:


Unknown said...

These books sound as if they'd be a lot of fun to read aloud to my children at night. They really love bedtime stories and they both love tales of fantasy, paranormal, magic, and high intrigue. These novels fit the bill!

Mary Preston said...

I can see my daughter enjoy this as well.